If you love the way this looks, you’ll be bowled over by how easy it is to make.
When I first saw the prototype for this recipe, I was immediately attracted to the way it looked. Rings of Jalapeno peppers sink into its crispy corn and cheese topping. Add to that, the cast-iron skillet told me this was a one-skillet wonder. Finally, it’s a nod to Mexican cooking which is always welcome in our house. As it turned out, I didn’t have all the ingredients in our super-stocked pantry. But it was clear to me, I could easily make substitutions and that’s exactly where I ended up. I’ve since made this again and every time I do, I realize this may be the most adaptable Mexican dish you could cook. You can make it as mild as you like, or, if you prefer, you can turn up the heat. It all depends on one key ingredient: Store-bought Salsa.
Salsa dates back to the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas.
Although ‘salsa’ is both the Italian and Spanish word for ‘sauce’, in the US it overwhelmingly refers to Mexican ‘Salsa Picante’ most often used as dips for chips. If you have any questions about the popularity of Salsa, just stand in front of the wall of Salsa at Trader Joe’s. As I banged out a list of the 16 salsas, at least five people picked out a Salsa. They could choose from the following: Thick and Chunky, Chunky, Salsa Verde Autentico, Chipotle Black Bean Garlic, Chipotle Corn and Chili, Cowboy Caviar, Corn Black Bean and Pepper, Pepita, Hatch Valley, Double Roasted Organic Tomatillo, Roasted Yellow Chili Salsa, Fire Roasted Tomato, Island Salsa, Pineapple or Spicy Smoky Peach. Or there’s the one I used in today’s recipe: Garlic Chipotle Salsa. I think I’d steer clear of the fruit salsas here but don’t let me stop you. But do let us know how your Tamale Pie turns out.
20 minutes prep is all it takes to get this dish on the table.
You start with a pound of lean ground beef and a diced yellow onion browned together in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Then you add the all-important 1 lb. jar of store-bought Salsa. You can actually stop right there and proceed to the cornbread topping. Or you can add some chili powder, garlic, black beans, green chiles—you can even substitute ground chicken or turkey for the ground beef. The filling should be bubbling away when you add the cornbread batter. That way the cornbread topping will bake evenly in 18 to 20 minutes. Here’s the recipe and after it a couple of other easy Mexican favorites.
Beef Tamale Pie
You can make this delicious combination of beef, cheese, onions, salsa as spicy as you want...then top it off with a crispy cornbread and cheese topping.
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
- 16 oz. of your favorite store-bought Salsa
- 1 tbsp. minced garlic (Optional)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder (Optional)
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 large jalapeños sliced and de-seeded
- 6 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 ½ cups), divided
- 1 (8.5-oz.) pkg. corn muffin mix or 8.5 oz. Cornbread mix.
- ½ cup whole milk
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat oil in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over high. Add beef and onion. Cook, stirring often until beef is browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in salsa, ¼ cup water, garlic and chili powder (if using), and salt. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Sprinkle top with 1 cup of cheese.
- Step 2 Whisk together corn muffin mix, milk, egg, and remaining ½ cup cheese. Pour batter over hot filling in skillet, spreading batter to edges of the skillet. Thinly sliced jalapeño. Sprinkle slices over top of batter.
- Step 3 Bake in preheated oven until cornbread is golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes.